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Proposal For Homeless Shelter In Silverado Canyon Draws Opposition

SILVERADO CANYON (CBSLA) — The question of where to house Orange County's homeless population has been the topic of fierce debate.

As CBSLA's Michele Gile reports, a new plan to use a former elementary school is getting people riled up.

The latest spot proposed by a group of South Orange County mayors for a homeless shelter is on county land in Silverado Canyon.

There is a child care center there, a community garden and a new library. It's not the place, say those who live and work there, for the newest homeless shelter.

"The fact that none of the mayors did their research. They didn't even know that there was a daycare here. They thought it might be across the street," said Silverado Canyon resident Joanne Hubble. "We're not equipped to deal with this. We just had a fire up in the canyon. They're still fighting it. What if we had to evacuate? What is they had to evacuate 400 people with no vehicles?"

Aside from being in a severe high fire zone, residents point out that the rural canyon location is miles from services for the homeless, including medical facilities and job sites. The nearest grocery store is seven miles away.

Pamela Chesney-Algar is proud of her new library.

"The casual way that they said they would close the library as if it doesn't matter to the community and it really does matter," said Chesney-Algar.

People from the Canyon will share their concerns with county leaders at a meeting tomorrow.

"Why they would want to put 400 people here? Take away our library. Destroy our children's center. Take away our community garden and leave us," said Silverado Canyon resident Deborah Johnson. "Why? Why would they do that?"

Use of the library which is county-owned and operated requires a minimum of three votes of the Board of Supervisors. The folks in the Canyon tell Gile that they know that at least two of them are opposed to the idea of utilizing the library for a homeless shelter.

CBSLA's Stacey Butler was at a meeting Monday night where about a hundred homeowners voice their opposition to their representative, Supervisor Todd Spitzer, about why the board should not approve the move. Spitzer told them he agrees.

"This would be a ludicrous place for a homeless shelter. Ludicrous," said Spitzer.

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